lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
Day #26: Your favourite couple

Beatrice and Benedick have to be up here. She gives as good as she gets, and vice versa. And you really do get the impression that they actually enjoy one another's company and that the love that apparently comes out of nowhere probably does have some sort of foundation.

On the tragic side, I have to go with Humphrey of Gloucester and Eleanor Cobham. Because, really, you can tell this is a couple who love one another. I sort of think of them as a much older Hotspur and Kate Percy, where they squabble and snipe regularly but really do love one another. And it may be that I am reading too much into the text but it seems to me that Eleanor's fall from grace just breaks Humphrey. He protests when the King demands that he step down as protector, but there's no force behind it. And that is probably because he lost the only person he could truly trust.

Day #27: Your favourite couplet

I am just going to go with the first line that comes to mind:

Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
Tut, were it farther off, I'll pluck it down.
--3 Henry VI, Act III, Scene II

You wouldn't think the word 'Tut' could make or break the end of a scene, but in this case, it TOTALLY does. It embodies so many different significations -- Richard's pride, his ambition, his utterly shameless confidence in his ability to deceive. And it's this brilliantly executed conspiracy between him and the audience -- we want to see if he can do it, how far he can go. So much, to rest on one little word.

Ron Cook in the BBC 3 Henry VI (1983) - He is charming and utterly adorable. And he nails this couplet.
Andrew Jarvis in the ESC Henry VI, 'House of York' (1990) (speech starts around 3:25; also featuring Ann Penfold as a wonderfully clever and snarky Elizabeth)

I'm out of town this weekend to go to my cousin's wedding in New York, so I will hopefully finish off the meme next week.

Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
Because we were travelling yesterday and I did not have time.

Day #16: Your first play you saw - Macbeth

I'm not counting film versions, so the first Shakespeare play I ever saw was in March of 1998 when I visited London for the first time. My father and I had just arrived on the red-eye that morning and happened to be wandering round Shaftesbury Avenue when we saw a billboard for a production of Macbeth at the Queen's Theatre. And that, as they say, was that.

Rufus Sewell (who I had, and still have, quite a thing for) was playing Macbeth, with Sally Dexter as Lady Macbeth. To be honest, there are large chunks of the production that I do not remember, but I recall the banquet scene being brilliant, along with pretty much any scene where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth shared the stage -- their chemistry was positively sizzling, which is odd, considering Lady M. spends most of her time telling her husband off for being unmanly.

Rather to my shame, I did end up falling asleep during the scene where Macduff and Malcolm talk about nothing while watching grass grow, but I have no idea if there is any way to make that scene interesting without cutting about half of it. Also, I can partly blame jetlag since it was our first day in London.

Day #17: Your favourite speech - Romeo and Juliet and 3 Henry VI

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene II )

First of all, this speech is possibly one of the sexiest in Shakespeare, at least as far as I'm concerned. The imagery is just glorious, and I love all the different facets we see of Juliet here -- how incredibly alive she is and glorying in the prospect of everything she has waiting for her -- and, of course, the horrible irony of the fight the audience has just witnessed that is about to completely shatter her world and her expectations.

And now for something completely different...3 Henry VI, Act V, Scene VI )

I came very close to picking the monologue from Act III, Scene II, but I'd already talked about that on Day 3 when I discussed Richard in detail. This soliloquy is in some ways an extension of that, but there is an incredible, corrosive bitterness here that's muted in the earlier speech, or at least channelled into that almost playful anticipation with which Richard plots his coup d'état. Here, he's standing over the bloody corpse of Henry VI (the same corpse that will bleed in his presence in Richard III), having taken the first two steps toward the crown.

It is also entirely possible that my love for this speech comes from Jonathan Slinger's performance in the RSC Histories Cycle. Here's what I said about it after seeing it for the first time:

Henry's death scene was utterly riveting. So many links to Richard II's death, down to the circle of blood when he was dragged offstage. But Richard's monologue after the murder -- wow. Just wow. His bitterness, how trapped he seems to be, it comes out so strongly here, even more so than in the long speech in 3.2. His face and form have become who he is but not by choice. Everyone assumes he is evil because he is deformed. I actually felt genuinely sorry for him, in spite of Henry's body lying there in front of him. There was so much self-loathing in that speech. And then he dragged Henry -- poor, helpless Henry -- offstage, and everyone suddenly remembered he's sort of a homicidal maniac.

What's also worth noting is that Richard is the only person in the entire trilogy who never gets the benefit of the doubt from Henry VI. Everybody else -- York, Suffolk, Margaret, Edward, even Beaufort -- at least gets some moment in which Henry tries to understand them or sympathise with them. Richard never gets that. And, granted, perhaps that is because this is the only scene where they're together for any length of time, and Richard has just killed Henry's son, but Henry is just so mean to him it's almost astonishing. Especially since it's Henry -- sweet, unassuming, adorable, faily Henry.

...wow, that went on longer than I'd expected.

Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
Day #14: Your favourite fight scene - 1 Henry IV and 3 Henry VI

I'm really drawing a blank on this one, mostly because fight scenes are so completely dependent on performance and most action sequences in Shakespeare can turn out brilliantly, horribly, or anywhere in between. One need only look at the Evil Shakespeare Overlord List.

That being said, it probably comes as no surprise to anybody that my favourite fight scenes come from the histories.

The Battles of Shrewsbury and Tewkesbury. Apparently the Welsh border is a running theme. )

Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
Day #12: Your favourite scene

Damn you, meme, how dare you make me choose? I will arbitrarily narrow it down to...five. Okay, five. In no particular order.

In which we find a representative sampling )

ETA: So, [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 had the brilliant idea of posting bits from various productions that are up on YouTube. I am attempting to edit this post accordingly, so watch this space if you're interested!

Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
This is me catching up. Two in one day! But, of course, this one was easy. ;)

Day #10: Your favourite history - The Henry VI trilogy

Again, I am blatantly cheating since, based on my Day 1 answer, this entry ought to be about Richard III. But these plays never get enough love, so there.

Yeah, some of the verse is embarrassing. And it seems probable that Shakespeare wasn't fully responsible for them. But I LOVE THESE PLAYS. Also, this got very long, hence the cut. )

Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Richard - squee!)
Day #5: Your favourite villain

You have three guesses and the first two don't count. )
Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
Day #2: Your favourite character
Curse you, meme, for making me choose! But I appreciate that you also include categories for hero and heroine so I can openly cheat the system and filter out some of my answers.

Lady Elizabeth Grey / Queen Elizabeth from 3 Henry VI and Richard III - First of all, this is not by any means a dig at Margaret. I adore Margaret from the bottom of my heart. But Elizabeth's quieter form of resistance and her strength in the face of losing practically every person she's ever loved and the fact that she OUTSMARTS RICHARD III give her the edge in my mind. Also, the fact that does does get outmaneuvered sometimes but that doesn't stop her. She's not a nice person, not by a long shot. But she gets things done. And I have to give credit where it's due.

Also, I want to play her. SO BADLY. But not as badly as I want to direct Richard III.

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 linked me to this wonderful post about the miscontextualization of the quote 'Well-behaved women rarely make history.' I do find it's extremely relevant to Elizabeth, who is often negatively compared to Margaret because her presence isn't as clearly delineated.

Full List of Questions )
lareinenoire: (Studious Veronica)
I didn't take as many notes this time, as I was mainly jotting down things I hadn't noticed before, or things that I thought were different.

The first set of reviews is here.

They've more or less transplanted the entire set into the Roundhouse, although the theatre itself is a different shape. My seats, which I thought were going to be extremely high up, and would have been at the Courtyard, turned out to be quite good (I was front row circle, far to stage right).

Henry VI, Part I )

Henry VI, Part II )

Henry VI, Part III )

But now they're over. It makes me so very sad, even though logically I know that it frees up the histories so that other companies can technically do them. I am still sad.
lareinenoire: (Default)
Disclaimer: These are long and they ramble a lot. I'm taking them more or less verbatim from my notes, though getting rid of bad grammar and things I don't think about when I'm scribbling madly. ;) I'm also adding in proper act and scene numbers so that the descriptions make more sense. Due to the vagaries of train travel -- as I mentioned in the previous entry -- I missed all of Act I and the first two scenes of Act II of Henry IV, Part I.

My review of Richard II, which I saw on 20 November 2007, is here.

Henry IV, Part I )
Henry IV, Part II )
Henry V )
Henry VI, Part I )
Henry VI, Part II )
Henry VI, Part III )
Richard III )

I do have overall thoughts as well, but most of them are so tied up with my dissertation that I'll spare you and put them into my Shakespeare chapter instead.

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